David Watts
David Watts

Mr David Watts contested the Newark constituency in the 2014 by-election but did not stand in the 2015 General Election.

The 51-year-old solicitor, who lives in Nottingham and is standing for the Liberal Democrats, said he was “unashamedly” pro-European and would not rule out a scenario in which the UK did not leave the European Union.

“The Conservative Party seem intent on taking us to a hard Brexit,” he said. “And that was not on the ballot paper.

“In the short-term, whatever deal is agreed needs to be put to the British people. We were promised golden unicorns by the leave campaign ­— when people realise that’s not what’s on offer then people may change their minds.

“I won’t rule out the option of giving people the choice of staying in the EU.”

Mr Watts said investment was required to improve schools.

“Schools need money to deliver a good standard of education,” he said.

“We shouldn’t take money to give to free schools or to give to grammar schools.

“I have immense respect for teachers. Everything is focussed on hitting targets and not on teaching and that should change.

“We need to actually do away with a focus on statistics and let teachers teach.”

When talking about the challenges facing the area in terms of transport, Mr Watts praised his Conservative rival.

“Credit to Robert Jenrick, he has done quite well on this issue and raised it in Parliament” he said.

“We need to be talking to the county council, Highways Agency and the Department of Transport so that we are doing it right.

“It strikes me that the most successful politicians are pests. Whoever the MP for Newark is, they need to continue making the case.”

Mr Watts said Newark and Mansfield being grouped together as part of the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust — including King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield and Newark Hospital ­— was an “odd combination”.

He said: “Mansfield has all of the benefits and Newark has had all of the disadvantages.

“Newark Hospital was downgraded from an accident and emergency hospital and for a town of this size that is simply wrong.

“Whoever the Government is, they need to be looking at properly funding the NHS.

“At the moment we do it the wrong way round. What we need to do is to work out the money that we actually need for a proper health service and then work out how to raise it.”

Although Mr Watts finished sixth in the 2014 by-election with 1,004 votes, losing his deposit in the process, he said the result was due to unique circumstances of people combining to vote against UKIP.

“What we are seeing is that Brexit has redrawn the boundaries completely,” he said.

“The tectonic plates have shifted.

“I have spoken to three lawyers — two who only voted Labour and one who only voted Tory — who will be voting Liberal Democrat this time because of Brexit.”

Newark Constituency Liberal Democrat Party chairman Marylyn Rayner, of Collingham, said: “We are delighted to have David Watts as our candidate again.

“He is a wonderful man and we have enjoyed working with him in the past.

“All of the Liberal Democrat Party have the best interests of the country at heart.

“David is a Liberal Democrat who really cares about people.”